Fraudsters are always looking for new ways to empty the wallets of their victims, and scammers in the U.K. recently have hit on a novel phone fraud technique that preys on people’s fear of other phone fraud scams.
The new tactic involves scammers calling up potential victims and offering them a subscription service that will block unwanted calls. It’s the phone equivalent of a protection racket: Here’s a fraud call to sell you a fake service to protect you from fraud calls. Police in Sussex in the U.K. said they have received a number of reports about this particular scam in recent weeks, and many victims have fallen for it. The success of the scheme is a testament to how annoying and scary phone fraud scams are.
“We’ve received reports of fraudulent sales calls encouraging householders to subscribe to costly call blocking or telephone preference services, charging a monthly fee. However, the services offered will not block any unwanted calls, and could place personal information in the hands of criminals,” Sussex Detective Chief Inspector Tracy Edwards said in an alert on the new scam.
Most phone fraud scams involve scare tactics of one kind or another, usually related to unpaid taxes or some kind of fictitious bank problem. The callers will try to bully or cajole victims into transferring money to an account controlled by the fraudsters. The technique that the fraudsters in the U.K. are using is unique in that it purports to protect victims from exactly the kind of calls the fraud ring is making. There are legitimate services and apps that provide that service, but they usually are delivered by either a telecom company or third-party app for mobile devices.
The advantage that phone fraud crews have in these schemes is that they know eager victims are to weed out annoying scam calls. Robocalls offering any number of different useless products or services, demanding payment for imaginary back taxes, or alerting victims to fictional problems with their bank accounts are an annoyance and a threat to millions of people around the world. Scammers now are turning that fear back on victims and using it to extort monthly payments from them for a service that doesn’t exist.